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Moscow approves its first wind ordinance

MOSCOW – By two votes, residents ushered in Thursday the first ordinance to regulate wind energy in their town.

Under the new rules, wind turbines are required to be 2,500 feet – less than half a mile – from the nearest permanent or seasonal residence.

The setback limitation generated the most discussion during the hour-long meeting attended by about 25 residents and non-residents, Selectman Donald Beane said.

Many people at the meeting said the setback should be farther, but increasing the distance between turbines and dwellings would prove too restrictive, “and would almost eliminate any development at all,” Beane said.

The final vote, 9 to 8, puts Moscow in the minority of Somerset County towns with a wind-related ordinance. Caratunk has one, but Bingham does not. Neither does Jackman, Solon, Madison, Anson, Embden or Starks.

The ordinance requires that turbines are designed to avoid shadow flicker effects and meet specific sound-level limits. It also makes the developer responsible for decommissioning turbines.

While a commercial wind project in Moscow is not yet certain, testing poles in the small town and neighboring Caratunk have been gathering wind data for a little more than a year. Next fall, the potential developers – Maine Windpower LLC and Cianbro Corporation – will know whether a wind farm in the two communities is feasible.

To the east of Moscow, First Wind, a Boston-based company, also has a proposed project. That company would like to install up to 50 turbines from Bingham through Brighton Plantation, Mayfield Township, Kingsbury Plantation and Blanchard Township.

Highland Wind LLC, of which former Gov. Angus King is a business partner, wants to build a 48-turbine wind farm to the west of Moscow, in Highland Plantation.